BACKGROUND: One difficulty of self-sustainability is the quality assurance of native products. This research was designed to study the risks and critical control points in the collection, handling and marketing of Brazil nuts from native forests and urban fairs in the Brazilian Amazon by characterisation of morphological aspects of fungi and posterior identification by molecular biology and determination of aflatoxins by high-performance liquid chromatography.
RESULTS: Several corrective actions to improve product quality were found to be necessary in both sites. Growth of fungi was observed in 95% of fragments of Brazil nuts from both sites during the between-harvest period. Aflatoxin levels indicated that, although fungal growth was observed in both sites, only Brazil nuts from the native forest showed a high risk to human health (total aflatoxin level of 471.69 µg kg−1).
CONCLUSION: This study has shown the main issues related to the process design of Brazil nuts, supporting the necessity for research on new strategies to improve the quality of nuts. Also, the habit of eating Brazil nuts stored throughout the year may represent a risk to farmers. © 2012 Society of Chemical Industry